KLAIPEDA – As the International Transport Workers' Federation (ITF) asked Lithuania's State Border Guard Service to explain why two Russian seafarers with health problems have been unable to leave Lithuania's port of Klaipeda for more than as they cannot get transit visas, Lithuanian border guards say the visas have already been granted in line with the existing procedure, adding, that the seamen have already left Lithuania.
ITF inspector in Lithuania Andrey Chernov says the federation had asked the SBGS to explain why the process was being delayed.
Laimonas Pocius of the SBGS's Pagegiai Frontier District said the Russian seafarers reached Kaliningrad on Tuesday morning:
"As far as we know, these citizens left for Kaliningrad via the Panemune checkpoint," Pocius told reporters in Klaipeda on Tuesday.
He denied that the process stalled, saying that border guards received their applications on November 8 and issued visas within a week without violating the existing legislation and deadlines.
"We cannot say that the visa issuance process took a long time as we started our procedures only when these persons arrived at the checkpoints in our port, and from then on we started the visa issuance procedure and within seven days these persons (...) were issued visas. Under the Schengen Borders Code, we cannot start the procedures until the ship enters the port," he said, adding that when a ship is in the port's outer roadstead, seafarers can only be granted visas immediately if their lives are in danger, which was not the case.
On October 5 and 17, two seamen on board the Panamanian-flagged ship Viva Trinity, which was in Klaipeda's outer roadstead, felt unwell, and the medical staff officially stated that they could not continue working on board and recommended that they stop work and undergo outpatient treatment.
Representatives of Shipsera, the company providing agency services to the ship, claimed Lithuanian border guards failed to issue necessary documents because the ship was not docked at the port of Klaipeda and was in the roadstead at the time, and that it was not an emergency.
The Lithuanian Seafarers' Union says Viva Trinity was supposed to enter Klaipeda on September 16, but still remained in the roadstead. Chernov says he doesn’t know why the ship from Egypt cannot unload its cargo in Lithuania.
According to Chernov, the ship's crew consists of about 20 seafarers, both Russian and Ukrainian citizens, and the ship's owner is in Turkey.